Final Project

The Ghostbusters are back and they need new user-friendly technology. Your job is to design and build it.

You can make anything you want - ghost catching devices, ghost traps, a ghost containment unit, training exercises, ghost identification systems, etc.

You will prototype, test, build, and experiment with your interface. It must take into account your users, their context and environment, and their tasks. It does not need to actually function with respect to containing paranormal spirits (bonus points if you can prove that it does), but it should be something a person can use and test out and it should feel functional.

The Process

Each week, you will deliver a new step in the design and testing of your prototype. These intermediate steps are the bulk of your grade for the final project.

Week 1: Requirements, Users, Initial Ideas

Due 11/10

You should turn in a 1,000-1,500 word document that details the following:

  • Interface / System requirements - I am interested in the interface, not the backend so please focus on the user-facing components and don't get caught up in databases or things like that.
  • Users, context, environment - who are your users? What is the environment and context in which they are operating? Do they have special needs?
  • Tasks - what are the main tasks your users will be performing within the system?
  • System Description - a general description of what you are going to build.
  • Sketch - a physical sketch of what you're going to build. Paper, hand drawing of poor quality is fine.
  • List of features, the design decisions that drove your plan to include them, and support from heuristics, guidelines, and other HCI principles to support your decisions.

Week 2: Low-Fidelity Prototype

Due 11/17

I mean it when I say low fidelity. Don't try to turn in a half-made website or app for this. Do it on paper or use super basic materials if you are building an object

You should have your main features implemented on a paper prototype. Perform both a cognitive walkthrough, do a heuristic evaluation, and have one outside person work with your paper prototype (2 people must do this if you are in a group).

Report out on your evaluation. Include a discussion of design points that need to be fixed in the next prototype, how you found them, and how you plan to change them. Include photos or video of your paper prototype. Max 1,000 words.

Week 3-4: High-Fidelity Prototype

Due 12/1

Build a high-fidelity prototype, as we did in homework 2. Using a refined list of tasks, have at least 2 people act as subjects as you perform a usability study with your prototype. Use two different observation methods from homework 4. If you are in a group, you must have 4 subjects and use all three observation methods at least once. Conduct a post-test interview with each subject.

Max 1,500 words. This should not be a full report like you did for homework 4 - we already know why you have your tasks. Instead, it should describe the protocol you used for the usability study, report on the observations and your analysis of the weaknesses, and list points you plan to improve moving forward.

Complete this study before class on 12/1 because you should make any tweaks to your interface and have them complete by class time on 12/1 when you will bring your final prototypes to class.

Class will be scheduled so you each will test each other's prototypes. You must have at least 3 people try yours, unless you are in a group and then you need 6. Closer to that date, we will discuss building a framework for quantitatively evaluating your prototypes.

You will receive no points if you do not have a fully functional, bug-free prototype to use in class. Do not show up with something half-done.

Your analysis must be included in your final document (discussed below).

Week 5: Final Presentation


Bring your working prototype to class. You will have 10 minutes to present the best parts of it to class. DO NOT just walk us through all the features. Those are the worst presentations. Show us the coolest stuff you've done. Highlight the things you changed or what you found surprising. You will be graded on how interesting your presentation is, not how thoroughly you cover the features of your system.

Final Document

Your final paper should have the following:
  • Description of your project - what did you build and what does it do.
  • User Analysis - Who are your users, what is their context for interaction, what (if anything) is unique about their environment?
  • Feature Analysis - What are the major features and why are they there? How do they serve your users
  • Design Process - explain your prototypes, testing, and design evolution. Use the text you've already written, but polish it and make it fit nicely in this final report.
  • Quantitative Evaluation - show the results from the in-class quantitative evaluation. How did you perform relative to others? Which tasks did you do well on? Which usability measures? Why do you think your performance was better/worse? What changes did you make as a result? Use statistical analysis where appropriate.
  • Discussion - can you draw any generalizable conclusions for people designing for special populations like the Ghostbusters? Does the paranormal present a particular challenge in interface design? Does the environment significantly affect design decisions in a way that would carry over into other domains? This section should be 600-1,000 words.
Max 7,000 words.

Notes and Project Requirements

Don't make stuff up about the Ghostbusters world. You should use the movie as a way to understand your users. For example, don't say "People who are scheduling appointments may have to deal with the power being out because of ghosts, so we need a mobile app." It is fine to make a mobile app, but there is no evidence in the movies that people have to deal with ghost-induced power outages. Don't create a fiction to support your design decisions. Rely on what you know to be true. While this is a fun application space, I expect you to take the user analysis seriously. Use what you know about typical users but have evidence to support any scenario that you think will drive their tasks or context.

We will watch Ghostbusters in class, but you may want to review. You can see it in the following ways:


  • 15% for each weekly deadline through week 7 (there are 3 of these)
  • 25% for final written report
    • 80% for quality of analysis, including thorough and proper application of HCI principles
    • 20% for quality of writing
  • 30% for final presentation
    • 40% for depth of analysis
    • 40% for engaging, quality presentation
    • 20% for quality of prototype
Standard late penalties apply for each weekly deadline except for the final deadline where you will receive no credit for being late. All assignments are due at 6pm on the date specified.

You have many weeks to work on this, so I expect very high-quality final prototypes. These should not look like products that beginner designers put together. Invest a lot of time in making them look professional and well-designed. You will be graded on the professionalism of your product.


If you are working in a group of 2, you need to double the number of participants in your prototype evaluations (2 people working with the low-fidelity prototype, 4 with the high-fidelity, and 6 with the final prototype).


Write for an academic / HCI audience. Do not write sales pitches, personal reflections, journals, etc.


Do not go over length. If you are more than 50 words over the upper length limit, I will deduct 2% of your grade for every 1% you exceed the length (e.g. If you turn in a 600 word paper when the upper limit was 500 words, you are 100 words over which is 20% over. I will then deduct 40% of your grade).